Friday, December 25, 2009

Friday Book Review: Paris 1919

I like to think that I'm pretty well versed in history. I know a lot about ancient civilizations like the Greeks, Romans and Egyptians because let's face it, those eras are super cool. I even think I know a considerable amount about more recent history from World War II to the present day.

But there was definitely a lack of knowledge about the time immediately before and after World War I. Sure I know that the assassination of Frans Ferdinand is the answer to the trivial question, what started World War I? Other than that I'm sketchy on the details and that is where Paris 1919: Six Months That Changed the World comes in.

It really is a fascinating book. It is broken out into chapters focusing on individual countries. Detailing their demands at the peace conference, their major players and the resulting new boundaries once the treaty was eventually signed. I found this to be real interesting as the world's boundaries were redrawn pre and post World War I.

The other major part of the book was pointing out the mistakes made during the treaty which directly led to the outbreak of World War II. You'll understand why allies in WWI like Italy and Japan fought on the Axis side during WW2.

I really enjoyed this book. It's a very long read and the information quotient is very dense. I recommend this one as a borrow from your local library.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Idiot Proof Coffee Mug

I love this Drink Selector Mug I saw over at Gizmodiva. You can setup your preferred coffee order directly on the mug for error free coffee ordering.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday Book Review: Wireless

While I'm not usually a huge fan of short story collections I couldn't pass up Wireless by Charles Stross. He's been one of my favourite sci-fi authors since I read his post-singularity novel, Singularity Sky.

In this collection we get to see Stross take on a number of different genres like the cold war era Missile Gap, the mind bending time travel Palimpsests, his net neutrality collaboration with Cory Doctorow called Unwirer and my personal favourite Down on the Farm. In Down on the Farm we get another mission from Bob Howard of The Laundry. The Laundry is a secret British organization that is a cross between MI-6/computer hackers/warlocks.

All of the stories in this book are quite enjoyable and I recommend this book as a buy to all sci-fi lovers.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pricey Tea

This $2,500 bottle of green tea better cure cancer. Why else would you spend that much money on tea?

In Depth Look at the Rise and Fall of Starbucks

The Phoenix has an in depth article with Bryant Simon the author of Everything but the Coffee: Learning about America from Starbucks. In the article Mr. Simon talks about the rise and fall of Starbucks. Arguing that the extension of the Starbucks brand nearly destroyed the company.

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Tea Flavoured Hot Chocolate

From Lifehacker: add a little interesting flavour to your hot chocolate by adding some tea. They suggest using vanilla or peppermint. While personally I think this sounds kinda gross I do love peppermint hot chocolate so I may have to give this a try.

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Coffee Wil Not Sober You Up

Apparently using coffee to sober up once intoxicated is a myth. In fact the combination of caffeine and alcohol impairs your decision making abilities even worse than alcohol alone.

So if you are out and you've been drinking. You don't need a coffee, you need a cab.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Coffee vs Prostate Cancer

Ah coffee, is their nothing you cannot do? New research shows that coffee consumption reduces your chance of getting advanced prostate cancer.

Thanks to Paul and Ryan for pointing me to this article.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Make Your Own K Cups

If you have one of those K Cup coffee brewing system you may want to check out this post on making your own coffee pods. It may save you some money in the long run.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Friday Book Review: House of Mystery Volume 1 - Room and Boredom

House of Mystery Vol. 01: Room and Boredom is basically a contrivance that allows DC to put out an anthology book of short stories but I like it.

Traditionally anthology books don't sell well in the comics medium. However, Vertigo has put on a few of their heavy hitters on to this book in hopes that it sells well. Teaming up on the writing duties are Matthew Sturges and Bill Willingham who are the driving force behind the Fables universe. See my review of Fables Volume 1.

In House of Mystery the story opens up with Cain talking to his brother Able, yes that Cain and Able, before returning home one afternoon. Sadly upon Cain's return to his house he finds it is missing. Cain is distraught about the chain of events and vows to find his missing house. A quick note in DC continuity: Cain is the caretaker of the House of Mystery while Able is the caretaker of the House of Secrets.

We flip over to the house where we are introduced to the core concept of the book. People wander in and our of the house where they can enjoy the food and drink at the bar. However, money is no good at the house and you need to pay up by telling a story. This allows guest writers like Bill Willingham to step in and spend a few pages spinning a yarn about whatever he feels like at the moment.

There are five characters, the barman, the waitress, the poet, the pirate and the architect who cannot leave the House of Mystery. Whatever they try just drops them right back into the house. In fact the only way they seem to be able to leave the house is via the mysterious coachman. What happens to people who leave with the coachman is unknown to people at the house as no one has ever returned.

It is the newly arrived architect called Fig who starts the connecting pieces written by Matt Sturges into motion. She arrived at the house as she was being chased by a couple of ghost like figures. Once in the house she discovers she has a unique connection to it that none of the other characters share.

I did like the way the mystery was developed in this first volume and it left me wanting more so I have to recommend this as a buy.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

New Tim Horton iPhone App, Horton’s Finder

The iPhoneInCanada Blog has a review of the new Horton Finder app from Majestic Media. The app is used to find your nearest Tim Horton's and is available for free until December 15th.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Buy a Latte, Fight AIDS

Starbucks is donating a nickel from every latte sold today to help fight AIDS as part of their Join Red program.